One of our breakout leaders from the 2013 Women’s Forum was Laura Chapman, Connections Minister at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN. She was on a panel with several other single women to discuss how we minister to the single women in our church. Here are some helpful thoughts she has for us as women’s ministry leaders:
I’m convinced that walking into a church solo is one of the loneliest moments. This is particularly true if you are a first time guest. I remember a single friend told me once that she thought Sunday afternoons were especially hard – heading home alone. During our session at the Women’s Forum we had a rich dialogue on how to reach single women in the local church. Here are a few takeaways from our panel and our peers:
Think Relationships Instead of thinking in terms of “programs,” create a culture where conversations are started and guests are greeted warmly. Help new people meet others quickly. Go for a one time ask, instead of a six-week commitment. Start with, “Lunch plans after church?”
Events for All In planning your women’s events, involve all the demographics in the planning that you would like to attend. If you want a single woman to attend, include one (or more) on the planning team. Each demographic represented, will not only speak into what will resonate with her peers, but she will be able to tap into her circles to invite and promote.
Single Moms Offering a mom’s group at night will often become a place for not only working-moms, but single moms as well. Additionally, a divorce support group is a great first step to help minster to separated and divorced women. Long Hollow (outside of Nashville) loves on single moms through a wonderful event called The Gift each December. There is no cost for the event and childcare is provided. Moms are invited to come and be spoiled through pampering and professionals are present for consultations as well.
Young Adult Women Young Adult women (20’s) are typically looking for friends, first. Establishing Young Adult Women Small Groups will create environments for friendships to develop and create space for spiritual growth to occur.
Intergenerational Connections As much as women long for relationship with peers, we want to learn from those older and younger, too. Single women are interested in homemaking skills as well. Why not offer a cooking, decorating, or crafting party!
Studies to consider: Jennifer Rothschild’s Missing Pieces is excellent. In examining does God Hear, Care, etc. it helps process those deep questions penetrating our faith. (I’ve personally done this study twice. The first time with all single women, so obviously those missing pieces were husbands and children. The second time through I was with a diverse group of women.) Lina Abujamra’s Thrive is a great book as well.
Service Opportunities – Involve singles in serving opportunities and mission trips. Consider asking a single woman to lead out!
Ways to Bless Single Women – If you have a handyman husband, why not bless a single woman with his skillset. (I have light bulbs I can’t reach and occasionally need things moved. A young couple down the street is always eager to help me, which is a blessing!) Invite single women to your home for a meal or to head out on an adventure with your family. I love joining my friends’ families for outings. I won’t necessarily go to the zoo on my own, but joining a family is fun. It’s a good way to have extra hands to help with kids, too. Know a single mom? Consider blessing her by helping send her kids to camp. Scholarship money for kid/student retreats can be a wonderful gift to families.
Whether married or single, we all go through different phases and there isn’t a one “best method.” Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in how to minister to single women. Think relationally first, then everything else will naturally follow.
Laura Chapman has served as the Connections Minister at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN, since 2006. Before serving in the local church full-time, she taught elementary school for 10 years. Laura is a graduate of Samford University and received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University. She is passionate about helping people connect to our Lord and the local church.